Communities need strength and proper resources to meet the needs of children, youth, and families by focusing on the capabilities of a community that includes its citizens, agencies, and organizations.
Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA) identify critical health needs and issues through systematic, comprehensive data collection and analysis.
It provides a framework for assessing the range of practical steps needed to develop a profile of health needs for caseloads or communities.
Reading this article will give you an idea of the use of community health needs assessments, ways to create a successful assessment, and the benefits associated with the evaluation.
What is community health needs assessment?
A Community Health Needs Assessment is a fundamental tool of public health practice and refers to a state, tribal, local, or territorial health assessment.
Giving organizations comprehensive information about the community’s current health status, needs, and issues.
This information can help develop a community’s health improvement plans to determine how and where resources should be distributed within the society to meet their needs.
The assessment is usually conducted every three years and adapts implementation strategies to address identified needs.
It must be thorough and accurate because it helps differentiate the patient’s normal condition from the abnormal.
Comprehensive health assessments are established if a patient needs diagnostic testing or additional medical care.
A Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), aims to address health problems based on the community health improvement process and the community health assessment activities.
CHIP is used by health and other governmental education and human service agencies to collaborate with community partners to prioritize, coordinate, and target resources.
This CHIP is critical for developing policies and defining actions to target efforts that promote health.
Areas that should be addressed are the strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and opportunities within the community to improve the health and well-being status of the community.
Creating a successful community health needs assessment
There are standard components of thriving community health needs assessment, including information, research, and data collection stage; prioritization and strategy design stage; and implementation and action stage.
Community health needs assessment seeks to gather accurate information representative of the community’s needs.
Before taking action, assessments are performed and used to determine current situations and identify issues by establishing the foundation for vital planning.
So, let’s discuss all three stages associated with the planning process.
Information, research, and data collection stage
The information, research, and data collection stage have four components that explore existing data resources by obtaining new quantitative and qualitative data:
- Community statistical profile and market area definition
- Qualitative survey among community residents
- Qualitative research with the healthcare community
- Qualitative research with community leaders and stakeholders
These components gather the necessary information to proceed to the next stage.
Prioritization and strategy design stage
The prioritization and strategy designs are crucial stages and components of the CHNA process. It is when strategic planning prioritizes a session to meet with the team.
Implementation and action stage
The implementation and action stage pertains to goals and strategies that are formally identified in a document addressing the improvement of the community’s overall health.
How do these stages help?
Creating a strategic planning process by following the three stages can ultimately confirm, transform, or develop a new mission and vision by characterizing the nature of the community.
Also, furnishing a sense of direction for organizations or communities, and identifying the goals necessary to achieve the task at hand.
Fulfilling the mission involves developing specific plans to carry out each purpose and identifying the essential resources such as people, property, time, money, and technology to attain the goals.
Once these goals have been determined, the community health needs assessment process becomes more straightforward by identifying the essential resources that are already available within the organization or community.
In addition, recognizing the critical resources to be acquired, and determining how to use, develop, or obtain those resources.
Some hospitals and communities have adopted specific approaches, but hospitals vary markedly in how they receive input from their community members.
The methods used above have set priorities to collaborate with other organizations on how to evaluate strategies and measure performance to improve population health.
There are many benefits from having a thriving community health needs assessment. All communities can benefit from this assessment, benefits that include:
- Improving organizational and community coordination and collaboration
- Increased knowledge about public health and the interconnectedness of activities
- Strengthened partnerships within state and local public health systems
- Identifying strengths and weaknesses to address in quality improvement efforts
- Baselines on performance to use in preparing for accreditation
- Benchmarks for public health practice improvements
It is essential to have these assessments due to all communities being in a continual state of change that may include possible significant shifts from the population’s average age, ethnic composition, or unemployment rates.
Other contributing factors are social, cultural, and economic changes that can alter the character or attitude of a community.
Assessments are mainly geared towards solving problems, avoiding a past or current situation, creating or taking advantage of a further opportunity, or providing learning, development, or growth.
Community health needs assessments can provide health visitors, nurses, doctors, governments, and organizations a more in-depth understanding of their communities and the existing needs.
Thereby enabling effective planning, prioritization, development, and delivery of proper services to improve outcomes for the population. Effective planning and actions obtain accurate and up-to-date information about a community’s needs.
Following the appropriate protocols can frame the problems or opportunities to build relationships with people and groups with a stake in the issue, providing a foundation for planning and action to improve learning, training, development, and performance.
Protocols can align resources by incorporating strategies, building relationships among individuals, clarifying problems or opportunities, setting goals for future actions, and providing data, insights, or justification for decision-making.
A community health needs assessment is part of a bigger picture to continuously improve upon for a better future.
Written by: Emmanuel J. Osemota